How to Fulfill International Orders

The world can be your oyster with these quick international shipping tips.

Branching out abroad can be very lucrative for small businesses. Sellers of home-made, unique or regional products can find a vast market across borders. International sales are a growing sector of e-commerce, but unfortunately many small businesses are put off by the rules, regulations and risks associated with shipping products around the world.

As more and more people around the world are gaining access to the internet, the international online shopping industry is only going to grow. The opportunities are there for small businesses to ride this wave, you just have to untangle the web that is international shipping first.

We’ve put together a few little tips and considerations that will help you get your international orders off to a flying start.

Choose your products carefully

Not every product is easily adaptable for the international market. Customs duties, huge variances in shipping costs, regulations and more can create real issues getting your products across borders. Try sticking to small products for overseas orders and ensure shipping your products across borders is cost-effective.

Understand country-specific rules and regulations

In Singapore, the import and sale of chewing gum is prohibited; in Cuba, the old style of lightbulbs are illegal to import. There’s no point in marketing your products to countries that won’t accept them. There are hundreds of weird little laws like these, so know your products well and be aware of any regulations around them. To give you a helping hand, UPS has a great tool for calculating international shipping costs and regulations.

Target specific countries

Knowing your target market is vital to any marketing campaign, and this extends further in international e-commerce. Knowing a target country, the rules and regulations, the total cost of shipping and how the people of the country view your product is fundamental to international expansion.

Take advantage of any nation by nation trade agreements, for example the EU single market, and send your products with little to no added fees or levies.

Understand the cost of shipping

When you ship an item from one part of the UK to another, you pay a standard rate decided by the shipping carrier. When you ship from the UK to elsewhere in the world however, things begin to get a bit more complicated. New duties and taxes come into play and create what is known as the “landed cost.”

Neglecting the landing cost can push the price onward to your customer, whom may well refuse to pay it. Imagine you bought a product online, and when it arrived at your door you had to pay an extra $10-20 to receive the item. Not only would you feel let down by the retailer and a bit cheated, you may refuse the item altogether, sending the item back at a cost to the retailer.

You can find numerous tools online to calculate the landing cost of a product. A quick google search should provide you with all the information you need.